It’s time for the Lions to roar.
First, the Lyons Township baseball team (23-9 overall, 13-4 Silver Division) needed to win last night (after deadline) against Downers Grove North to take sole possession of the West Suburban (Silver) Conference title. If that happened, then the Lions now need to switch gears and play the winner of Leo or Harper in the regional on May 23. If the team wins, it awaits either St. Joe’s or Riverside Brookfield in the first round of their own sectional on May 26.
“We’ve earned a share of first place in the conference, so all we need to do is win,” said LT coach George Ushela before Tuesday night’s showdown. “If we lose and Oak Park wins, we share the title, but of course we want to win out. Beyond that, I feel confident about our chances in the tournament.”
Indeed, despite posting a 2-2 record last week, Ushela was still pleased with his ball club’s performance. After falling to Hinsdale South, 3-2, May 8, LT answered in style with a 19-4 drubbing of Richards. Senior lead-off hitter Luke Gacek (.410 4 HR, 15 2B, 48 hits) paced the Lions with two homers and six RBIs, while Grant Filipitch (.387) went 3-for-5, including a home run, a double and two RBIs.
The Lions finished the week by splitting a doubleheader with Downers North, losing the first game 7-5, but recovering for a 4-2, 10-inning win in the nightcap. Filipitch, who is 8-1 with an ERA of 1.11, was a maestro on the mound, going nine and 2/3 innings and yielding just four hits. It was a team effort for LT, with reliever C.J. Esposito getting the last out, while right fielder Alex Georges made a diving catch in the bottom of the 10th to stifle the Downers North rally.
Lastly, junior Brian Lorenz was the hero at the plate, hitting a game-winning single in the 10th inning.
Come playoff time, the Lions will need senior Casey McMurray to continue with his hot bat. The center fielder is hitting .462, dropping from .525 two weeks ago. LT is hitting .337 as a team, so offensive output is not the problem for Ushela.
“We have a formidable lineup every day and we consistently have different guys step up at the plate,” he said. “We just need to field well behind our pitchers. Our goal is not to beat ourselves. If we accomplish this goal, I think we win quite a few games.”